three laws of future employment

Daniel Jelski at Newgeography discusses his three laws of future employment.  What I got from the article was ‘more of the Red Queen problem’.  Everyone is running faster so you have to run as fast as you can just to stay in the same place.

Let’s start with the three Laws of Future Employment. Law #1: People will get jobs doing things that computers can’t do. Law #2: A global market place will result in lower pay and fewer opportunities for many careers. (But also in cheaper and better products and a higher standard of living for American consumers.) Law #3: Professional people will more likely be freelancers and less likely to have a steady job.

He goes on to discuss how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields are not good bets for the future.

Laws #1 & 2 predict that there will likely be fewer STEM jobs in the future – they are both easily computerized and tradable. People will always be employed in STEM disciplines, many of them highly paid, but they’ll be paid for smarts rather than education. The disciplines will be much more competitive, with older and less talented workers left on the sidelines.

So if computerized, tradable skills won’t create much new employment, if any, what will? Clearly, it will be non-tradable skills that can’t be computerized. At their most valuable these jobs depend on human-human interaction – empathy. Counseling (of any sort: psychiatric, financial, weight loss, etc.), sales, customer service, management, and personal services all rely on empathy, as does waitressing. While much teaching can be computerized, what remains will depend more on empathy than anything else. “They don’t care what you know, but they will know if you care,” is a maxim future teachers should take to heart.

I’ve already quoted extensively.  Please read his conclusions.

You could also read Tabarrok’s response (He is quoted in the article) at Marginal Revolution.

My own concern on the subject -without disagreeing with him- is that the service industry is not profitable.  Wait staff can earn significant amounts in tips but (I admit I’ve been away for a while so I could be wrong) not that many people receive tips.  Service jobs do require more empathy  than skills jobs, but fewer people can perform the skilled work.  I fear the end of any sort of middle class and a sort of hereditary nobility and serf class.


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